IDF nixes live anti-tank missile test after complaints

The test was supposed to include a live antitank missile fired at a Merkava Mk 4 tank equipped with the Trophy active-protection system.

December 20, 2010 01:57
1 minute read.
Merkava Mark 4 with Trophy anti-missile system.

Merkava tank anti missile 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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Under pressure from bereaved families, the IDF on Sunday announced that a planned live anti-tank missile test against a Merkava tank with soldiers inside, would be held with a nonlethal warhead.

The test, scheduled for Wednesday, was supposed to include a live antitank missile fired at a Merkava Mk 4 tank equipped with the Trophy active-protection system, developed by Rafael and said to be capable of intercepting incoming enemy anti-tank missiles.

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The Trophy system creates a hemispheric protected zone around armored vehicles such as the Merkava tank, which operated prominently in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Using an advanced radar, the system is designed to detect and track a threat, and counters it with a projectile that intercepts the anti-tank missile.

Last week, during Division 162’s exercise in the Golan Heights, the IDF, for the first time, fielded a full company of tanks equipped with Trophy under the 401st Armored Brigade. The commander of the brigade, Col. Enav Shalev, announced during the exercise that the live test would be held to prove the Trophy’s capability and that he and one of his battalion commanders would sit inside the tank during the test.

After the announcement, a number of bereaved families sent letters to Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s office demanding that the missile test be canceled and warning of a repeat of the Tzeelim-2 disaster in which five members of the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal) were killed in a missile test.

Shalev said that he wanted to be inside the tank to serve as an example to his soldiers that they could rely on the system and its defensive capabilities.

In the evening, the IDF backtracked and explained that all along a dud warhead was planned to be used in the missile test scheduled for Wednesday.

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